Real Simple Magazine — A Frugal Little Christmas

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Have Yourself a Frugal Little Christmas

real simple magazine coverHow Steve and Annette Economides, publishers of the MoneySmartFamily website and authors of the book America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money, celebrate the holidays.

Save all year long.

“In January we set an amount to spend on gifts, divide it by 12, and set aside that much money every month.”

Shop eBay.

“Each of our five children gets a book, a movie, and a CD, plus one big gift that we find on eBay. We found a first-edition copy of John Hersey’s book Hiroshima for $10, including shipping, and a mint-condition JanSport backpack worth $150 for $30. We shop very early in the morning or late at night for auctions that close on weekdays.”

Fake it.

“Our 10-foot artificial tree, which would normally cost several hundred dollars, cost about $100. We bought it from the JCPenney clearance catalog in March.” Steve misses the scent of pine, but “most any place that sells live trees will give you the trimmings for free,” he says. “We place those on the piano and other furniture for decor and the smell.”

Be entertained for free.

“Universities and high schools host free holiday recitals and concerts. It’s a great way to get holiday cheer. We also make a night of driving around our neighborhood with cookies and cocoa to see the holiday lights.”

Make your own decorations.

“We make our own confetti by cutting scrap paper. Then we scoop it all up to use next New Years. But don’t use a micro-shredder. We did that once. The pieces were too small to pick up, so we ended up having to use the Shop-Vac.”

Use your memberships

“We’ve gotten free maps from AAA and made them part of presents, especially for kids going off to college.”

Remember what’s important.

“Christmas is not about serving a decadent spread or buying the most expensive gifts, but about relationships.”

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